The Best-Laid Plots
This was originally published on my other blog, Deep in the Heart of Textiles, in February of 2013, but I think it belongs better over here.
You’re given a plot of land and have the financial resources to do what you please. What’s the plan?
Hoping and dreaming for a plot of land sustained me for decades. My dream came true, but in a form I never imagined. I always thought I’d be in the canyons of West Texas. Instead I ended up in the gently rolling hills of the East Texas Piney Woods. I have come to find out that it’s not my plans that matter. The land reveals what it really needs, and hands you a whole new set of plans and projects.
So, when a plot of land is given to you, here’s what happens.
Maybe your land is nothing like your dream location. It draws you in anyway. You learn about the layers of soil, water quality, and erosion patterns. You might have thought that natural landscapes just “happen”, but since humans have suppressed some of nature’s tools like fires and predators, they must step in with active management practices. So you learn about thinning saplings and amending the soil.
Maybe you never really cared about plants, except for roses, before. Now your bookshelf is filled with books on native plants and the creatures they benefit. You find yourself in day-long seminars, learning about invasive competitors that can reduce diverse habitats into monocultures. You start to think that if the only thing you accomplish in your life is safeguarding some of these native plants for a few decades more, it will be a service.
Maybe you visualized a few horses on your dream farm. The horses don’t materialize, and the only animals you have are the ones that other people can no longer keep. But you enjoy giving them a healthy, happy life, and can’t imagine your days without them.
And you find yourself fascinated by all the creatures that live their lives here too, or just pass through.
You might have planned your dream house down to the doorknobs, but instead you find yourself with a house that doesn’t look anything like you imagined. But you are thankful for it every day, because it is stout and sturdy and weathers the storms.
You are also thankful that the water well, septic system, power, barns, sheds, supplies, fences, pond, and house were already on the place when you moved in, because all these things are more valuable than just unlimited financial resources. Even if you were practical enough to consider them in your plans, they would take a tremendous amount of knowledge and energy to accomplish. Since they are already here, you have time to think about the vegetable garden, animals, and volunteer work in the community.
So the plot of land may be a much different gift than you expected. Your intricate plans may come to naught. But you may come to find that the plans the land has for you are the ones worth following.